Habit Three: Put First Things First

Have you ever had this situation where you were not able to set your goals on what to do or prioritize which of which should be done first, then at the end it seemed like you have accomplished nothing? Because of the advancement of how people work nowadays, it seemed like there isn’t time for planning anymore, right? People just do things instantly without thinking first what would be the consequence of that decision. Well, I believe that it is what the Habit Two is trying to tell us. It seeks to tell people to analyze first what would be the impact of certain decisions in our lives. While habit three on the other hand, is the one who would implement those decisions. One way of implementing those things is by prioritizing.

How important is prioritizing and how can it make our lives easier and better? Back in my high school days, I used to observe that my classmates were crammers. They do the assignments the night before its submission. Though it crossed my mind that why do they cram? What’s with cramming that they’ve been much addicted to? Then I saw the technological advancement which is the reason for it. People tend to replace their perception that gadgets would help them relax more. And instead of doing the things that they’re supposed to do, they tell themselves that they’ll be doing it after they play the computer, or listen to iPod. They lack in prioritizing the things that should give more attention to.

I believe that this is what Habit three is trying to avoid. They tend to teach people on how to be effective through the means of being able to envision what you want to accomplish, and by doing that thing while setting up your priorities; putting first things first. And to do that, a person should have some self-discipline within him, and must act independently. By being independently, you make the decisions your own because you know that that is how you want it.

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.” Because of what my classmates during my high school days did, I saw where they were heading, and I know that it isn’t in the right track. I know for a fact that what they were lacking, and so are other crammers, is time management. Being able to prioritize what needs to be prioritized first is one of the basic tasks of time management.

As every friend and colleague of mine described me, they usually say that I’m an obsessive-compulsive or O.C. person wherein I always bring with me a planner and write there the things that I’m supposed to do for a particular day. Because they think that prioritizing and organizing what you have to do makes them feel too much bounded, chained, and they tend to be pressured, they don’t embrace the importance of time and would just usually say that “I’ll cross the bridge when I get there.”

It’s not that I find those people happy-go-lucky, but that is how they want others to think of them. If that is the case, they were not able to begin with the end in mind at all and don’t know what would they do if a problem occurred instantly. Time management is not really on how to manage time, it’s how one manages himself. By having the third habit, one could be able to know what he is capable of doing in a certain period of time and having the ability of time management enables a person to work properly, giving out his skills and talent into a more effective and productive goal. I believe that this is the real essence of time management.

The next step after one is able to absorb the essence of time management, is to know the time management matrix or if the things that he is going to do is the one that is more important than others. Beginning with the end in mind helps us in shaping up ourselves to go beyond things that would make us easier to evaluate whether that thing should be done or not, while putting first things first makes us understand and organize those activities on when it should be done. In this case, the time management matrix is helpful in giving a person an idea on what should be done now and later.

The time management matrix has four quadrants: the Important-Urgent (Q1), Important-Not Urgent (Q2), Not Important-Urgent (Q3), and Not Important-Not Urgent (Q4). All these quadrants have the usual things that we normally do. Because of reading the habit, I have become more aware on which quadrant the things I do usually fall with. And I realize that some were in the quadrant one.

Quadrant one people are too focused on deadlines, and problems. I realized that I think too much on deadlines and problems. I usually begin thinking things with what problems it may encounter in the future. I’m too deadline-driven. I want to know immediately when that particular thing should be submitted so that I could do it ahead of time. All those years that I’ve been too much focused on meeting deadlines or being ahead of it was wrong.

I should have focused myself on doing things that falls in the quadrant two. Quadrant two is where an effective management is. It is focused on things that are important but not urgent. Instead of thinking about the deadlines, I should have just thought on some opportunities in making it better. Proper planning and organization falls in the second quadrant.

By having the knowledge of how the quadrants work, the next step that one should now focus on is on how to be in the quadrant two people. Of course one could be by focusing, effectiveness in dealing with people, being flexible, being able to identify what roles you want to accomplish, and selecting the important goals, and by scheduling so that you could be able to look ahead of those goals.

After you’ve done all those things which make you focus more to be a quadrant two person, the final step for me is to implement it. In what sense? By getting used to it. You have to live by those things and you would be able to gain the commitment of doing it. The integrity of being able to implement and sustain it throughout your life, and having the values of selecting the right one in case those from other quadrants tries to overpower you again. By having the wisdom of putting first things first, you could now know within yourself what is really important and what isn’t.

The first habit says much more on what your attitude should be. The second lets you go beyond and read between the lines, of the consequences that your decisions could result to. The third habit is implementing those decisions with the help of self-management. The ability to manage yourself brings much about managing time, and prioritizing. Owners could have everything that he wanted. But without proper self-management, couldn’t be as successful as his employees with self-management are. It’s not about who brings the bigger money, for me, it has always been about who makes the right decision and implements it.

One thought on “Habit Three: Put First Things First

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